Librairie Gastéréa: Gastronomic Bookstore

german baking book

Like most men (and it seems from my previous post, quite a few women, married or otherwise), have a crush on Sophia Loren. My passion was aroused when I walked by the Librairie Gastéréa and saw her beaming face as she lovingly rolled out sheets of pasta on the book jacket parked enticingly in their window.

sophia loren's cookbook sophialorencookbook

So I was happy to have a chance to go inside and see the collection of Henri-Daniel and Tania Wibaut, who’ve owned this shop for about six years.

Henri-Daniel told me that although he’s a collector of books on various other topics, he’s especially attracted to cooking and food books because they range the gamut from winemaking, pastry, poetry, baking, charcuterie, and regional cooking, as well as being beautifully illustrated and designed.

cookbook stencil salad book

Since it was Saturday, I’d called to make an appointment; they’re in a small sidestreet so don’t get much foot traffic and are generally open only in the afternoons, or by appointment. And I arrived right on time. (Or as we say, “Swiss time” which is about twenty minutes different than “Paris time.”) Hearing my Parisian accent, Monsieur Wibaut had selected a few books from the shelf that he thought would interest me.

paris books

Like any dealer of specialty items, knowing what people are looking for and tailoring your shop (and searching for them) is part of what a gastronomic bookstore is all about and what makes them so special to me.

elsa cookbook

I didn’t realize that Sophia Loren was in such high demand, but he told me that her cookbook was rather hard to find. (Which I hope I didn’t contribute to.) He also said Julia Child’s book are really going up in value and had a book he’d picked up back in the states. I didn’t have the heart to tell him all my personally signed copies of her were still in transit between San Francisco and Paris, although after over half a decade, I am just now beginning to give up hope that I will ever see them again.

(In retrospect, I probably should have given him a list and told him to keep his eye out for them. Especially any that are signed: “To David-”)

german pastry book

But the book I really flipped over was a German pastry book with the most amazing designs of pastries I’ve ever seen. Each page was sharp and textbook-like perfect, showing the various puff pastries, croissants, cookies, and cakes. Along with the book came a set of stencils that, like the book, were in mint condition. I was extremely tempted to reach for my wallet, but then I had to sadly remove my hand from my billfold when I saw what it was selling for.

pastry cookbook

However my birthday is coming up in December, folks….

Other books that caught my eye were a colorful pamphlet on Dutch cheeses with recipes, all done up in blue and gold, and a old—but in perfect condition—book on French pastries from the Elsa, a company which makes baking products. Wouldn’t it be fun if one could do a cookbook today with these kinds of designs and drawings?

the world's tiniest cookbook world's tiniest cookbook

There were also some very, very old cookbooks, hundreds of years old. I very carefully turned the pages of them. Not quite as old was the world’s tiniest cookbook, from Austria, which Monsier Wibaut said published in 1900 and had one hundred-and-forty recipes in it. I don’t know how he counted them, but it would not be a easy book to cook from.

elsa cookbook dutch cheese cookbook

When I left, I wasn’t carrying the German pastry book with me, nor had I pocketed the tiny cookbook. And Sophia in all her colorful splendor, and oversized bowls of pasta and utensils, won’t be coming home with me either. But I know where she is, and the rest of them are, in case I change my mind.

Librarie Gastéréa
Rue Cité-Dèrriere 5
Lausanne, Switzerland



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43 comments

  • What’s not to love about vintage books? The styles…the illustrations…the smells…it’s all good. As for that itty-bitty book…I suppose people were just smaller back then….
    Stephanie

  • OMG the Sofia Loren cookbook! Maybe Celia can source that for me. Must have.

  • something tells me I could spend a couple hundred euros in that place!

  • If I’m not mistaken, David, Alison Harris (lives in Paris, married to David Downie), did the photos for the Sophia Loren book.

  • Oh, you’re in Lausanne! Have you visited the Collection de l’Art Brut?! One of my favorite museums ever – really phenomenal.
    Gorgeous books… those pastries… (also love the pages with rickrack edges).

  • Hello David,

    I am just another one of your many admires who drools over your blogs on a regular basis! :) Your mention of the German baking book reminded me of a question I have about German baking. I lived in Germany for a year and fell in love with the bread. I live in a Canadian city where there are many German bakers – so many, fact, that I can order in German! However, there are absolutely no Brötchen here. Do you know why that would be? I desperately miss the crunchy exterior and soft interior of those heavenly buns. I would think that Germans living in Canada, especially those with Bäckereis, would want to make them as they are a staple of the German diet. Thank you for your wisdom!

  • What was the name of the German pastry book?

  • Who decided that giant cutlery photo was a good idea?! Actually, on second thought, it’s so terrrible it’s kinda fantastic…

  • I love used books stores. I comb through all the old cookbooks too. What a great find while traveling. Too bad you couldn’t have gotten the german cookbook. Hope you can get it out of your head after you leave. It’s the mistake I always used to make; not getting something when I had the chance.

  • Yes, husband has a crush on Sophia and cannot compete. Her cookbook is engaging and tasty. There’s a cookbook store in the Village in NYC I want to visit…

  • David — fabulous post, and fabulous links to follow from it!

  • could you please tell us the name of the german pastry book? it looks terrific!

  • Do you remember the Cordon Bleu cookbook? This post reminds me I’d love to get a hold of some of my mothers old cookbooks (I prefer the one’s with pictures).

    I didn’t know she had a cook book out, glad I know, makes me want to skip cloud computing and start collecting books again. (cookbooks that is).

  • Wow, I actually have the Sophia Loren cookbook! I’ve had it for years. I think I bought it new – maybe? It’s fun to scrounge around bookstores. Sometimes there a real treasure to be found! I once found a first edition of Cross Creek Cookery by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings which I love… (She wrote The Yearling). She was another wonderful celebrity cook – in my book anyway.

  • The tiny cookbook is quite a find. I would have bought it but would have probably lost it after a little while–I don’t do too well with small objects. It’s so wonderful that there is a bookstore just for cookbooks–so much fun!

  • That Sophia Loren cookbook is such visual perfection.

  • HECKMANN (Adolf) Die moderne Dekorkunst in der Konditorei “Modeko” (Le décor moderne dans la confiserie) / Nordhausen am Harz, Heinrich Killinger, 1925

    (The modern decor in confectionery) / Nordhausen am Harz, Heinrich Killinger, 1925.
    Square 4to, cloth illustrated, 91 pp. (For photographic illustrations) + illustrated cardboard folder containing recipes and modes of employment (in French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Danish and Swedish) and a stencil and 26 layers (8 and 13 layer stencils announced), 124 pp .
    First edition of this reference work on the sets of pastry. Oberlé 286.
    More kitsch, you die!.
    [Ref.: 1048 | Print | III-054] Price: CHF 480 .- / € 362.00Ordering Info

  • David, the next time you are in the states, you should take a detour through Alabama and see if the Unclaimed Baggage Center has your cookbooks! (You probably shipped them, but, hey, who knows. Packages often go on passenger planes, not just cargo planes.)

  • David (& Fellow Readers)

    Speaking of cookbooks, what do the French think of Julia Child? Would they consult any of her recipes?

  • KT: Few people in France know who Julia Child is. As far as I know, her books were never published in French nor were her programs aired there either. I think it would be like if there was someone in Japan or Germany who was writing American recipes, I doubt they would have much success in America.

    jafi: Thanks for the translation. The book was in pristine condition, hence the price!

    cara: Wouldn’t that be nice? But I have a feeling that train has passed since it’s been quite a while : (

    Claudia: You don’t have a crush on her too? She’s pretty amazing and I was really, really tempted to get the book just because of the awesome (and a little wacky) photos. As the owner of the shop pointed out; in every picture, she’s featured holding or carrying an oversized something or other.

  • DAVID, you have done it again! Fantastic. AND, thanks to YOU, I found a copy of Carol Fields book, Italian Baking! Yesireeeeeee, found it through Amazon.com in the UK. The book is right here in River City. And by the way, the river would be the Guadalate….right here in El Puerto de Santa Maria where I live!

    Thanks so much for your curiousity, news and BLOG!!!!!!

    Off to Buenos Aires, more later.

  • Are you doing any appearances here in Switzerland? I wrote to Off the Shelf, the English language bookstore here in Geneva right after your last cookbook came out, begging them to have you come and do one of their Author Evenings.

  • Joanne: I’m in Lausanne and will not be en route to Geneva, I’m afraid. But thanks for the nod with the bookstore and perhaps I’ll be back at some point..

  • @ Lindsay: I am Swiss, not German but I know that what makes the buns ‘Broetchen’ so tasty, is that they use “Vollkornmehl” and grains (so sorry, I am sitting for 5′ in this fabulous Lisbon hotel before going out for the day, and my English, French and everything is failing me… If you want to do them at home, you just buy a very good …. oh sorry, I must get to you next week – I can’t even think of the English word for ‘Mehl’…. obrigadà!

    David, your blog is the ONLY one I look at today, this Sunday – because it has become compulsory…. What a totally wonderful tale and me having had the great pleasure of living 2 1/2yrs in Lutry nr Lausanne never heard of that bookshop… I shall not fail to visit when I am back in Switzerland another time| Thank you so much – and I do agree that maybe the photo with the huge serving spoons has more of a nostalgic value than a claim for art… :) Liked Hannah’s remark – we say: When it’s kitschy enough it’s beautiful again…

  • Nope – I checked. I don’t have that particular Sophia Loren Cookbook. I have her later cookbook. But my father-in-law, being the avid garage-sale junkie, purchased a set of big fork and spoons somewhere (just like the one’s Sophia seems to be so fond of) and hung them in my mother-in-laws kitchen. Quite the culinary decor statement, they were!

  • While helping my mother to move out of her longtime home recently, I found a box of my grandmother’s cookbooks. What a treasure trove! I don’t know if any of them are valuable but they are fascinating. I looked at one last night from about 1961 – “The Republican Congressional Cook Book” which manages to take digs at President Kennedy’s “New Frontier” program between recipes. It even has a “Republican Declaration of Principle and Policy” on the back cover which clearly shows that the more things change, the more they stay the same! I was disturbed that the then-Senator from Maryland chose to submit a recipe for Kidney Stew (of all things) rather than something made with our famous Chesapeake Bay blue crabs.

  • I live in Seattle, but spent 3 years in New England. Since I didn’t want to accumulate many possessions while I was there, I only allowed myself cookbooks. New England bookstores are a treasure trove for old and rare cookbooks. My favorites that I picked up were the Boston Cooking School Cook Book (Fannie Farmer 1909 ed.) and Lenotre’s Desserts and Pastries (not that old, but extremely traditional and useful). I often find myself using them.

  • I love vintage cookbooks! Gosh she is my grandma’s favorite too! When I was 8-9 and got a blunt cut she told me “oh you got the Sophia Loren haircut!” I didn’t get it then, but now I know.

    And the book? I love the different types that here are! There is something so charming about these books.

  • David, that blog was the perfect Sunday morning gift, a visual feast and a true temptation to ….. please, somebody tie me to my chair and take away my internet connection, now! ;-)

    You do know that Geneva is less than an hour’s drive or boat ride from Lausanne, don’t you?

  • Don’t you love spending time in Laussanne and Montreux? That part of Switzerland is so beautiful that you barely need to use the viewfinder in your camera to get a postcard worthy photo. Any random point and click will do…

    I have to agree with @sonya, the Collection de l’Art Brut is one of my favorites and should not be missed if you have the time.

  • This must be Sophia Loren’s book from the 70s, right? I don’t think she’s rolling pasta on the cover of her book from the 90s. I’ll have to keep an eye out for either book in our local used bookshops here in the East Bay.

  • The German pastry book looks so mouthwatering! I better look for my Sophia Loren cookbook, hope i haven’t given it to the local library …

  • i bet the books in that store smell fantastic. i love the smell of vintage books.

    sophia loren is also a robo-babe. full stop.

    xo

  • That book looks amazing – vintage recipe books are the best!
    x

  • If that was the one and only world’s tiniest cookbook, I’d like to have it. haha.

    by the way, i just purchased your newest recipe book. :D

  • Not sure if you’ve seen this yet, but I find the styling for the new Ikea baking cookbook (I know, right?) so so so beautiful! It’s definitely a modern and deconstructed take on classic pastries, but the textbook-like images you posted reminded me of it. :-)

    http://www.todayandtomorrow.net/2010/09/24/homemade-is-best/

  • Gorgeous post and photos. You do realize you’re now going to have to fund a trip for me to Lusanne, don’t you? It’s your own fault for making the store look and sound so good!

  • That Sophia Loren has some oversized bowls of pasta!

    What are you going to make with the tiny cookbook? Petit fours?

  • “Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.”
    Sophia Loren

  • Oh, please someone help me out. I should have known this would be the place to do it. There is a German bakery in Hot Springs, Arkansas, that makes the most delicious “Jogga” bread. I’ve looked it up frequently and have never found a recipe for it. Does recognize the word and can tell me about it? It’s very grainy and wholesome tasting.I can’t even remember the name of the bakery but it’s on Central.

  • Ohhh, what a fantastic thing to do, look and touch and flip through some of these amazing older cookbooks. Did any recipes stand out that you just had to try? Nothing like a good peruse through a vintage recipe book huh.

  • What was the name of the Polish pastry book?